Miami-Dade firefighter charged with sharing sexual images of underage girls — on Twitter

04/18/2014 11:22 AM

04/18/2014 7:45 PM

Detectives have arrested a Miami-Dade firefighter after he allegedly shared more than a dozen illicit images while using the most public of social media sites: Twitter.

Gabriel Diaz, 38, was arrested late Thursday, accused of posting 16 images of underage girls having sex. Diaz, who was still jailed Friday, is charged with promoting the sexual performance of a minor.

Back in December, in a story first reported by the Miami Herald, Diaz was reassigned to desk duty after Miami-Dade police raided his home and seized his computers.

His lawyer says that the longtime firefighter was just sharing adult content with buddies on Twitter, and never realized the images could possibly portray girls between the ages of 14 and 17.

“He looks forward to proving that he was in no way knowingly involved in child pornography,” said attorney Gus Lage.

The investigation into underage pornography uploaded on Twitter is a first in Miami-Dade, and underscores the ease with which racy and sometimes illegal content can be shared in the digital age.

Child-porn cases are usually associated with websites, email and programs that allow users to share files directly with other users.

Social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook prohibit lewd adult images. But Twitter, which allows users to post photos and micro-blog messages of up to 140 characters, does not ban pornographic content.

Most profiles are open for all to see, although users can restrict their “time lines” so that only their approved followers can see them.

In an effort to crack down on child porn, Twitter last year began using PhotoDNA, a program developed by Microsoft and also employed by Facebook, which scans images, searching for known child pornography.

Diaz did not create his Twitter account in his name, but under the moniker ot_a_ku2. He shared many of the images through his work computer, police say.

In Diaz’s case, Twitter initially flagged several questionable photos and sent them to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Investigators there analyzed the photos and confirmed that at least seven portrayed “child victims’’ who had been previously identified by law enforcement. Of those, only two of the images showed what could be considered “sexual conduct” under Florida law, police concluded in a search warrant.

But since then, sexual crimes detectives combed through thousands of images on his Twitter account and found at least 16 that were confirmed to show underage girls, police said.

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